Deadwood History begins planning brothel museum

DEADWOOD, S.D. – Deadwood is known for its history with gold mining, lawlessness, fires tearing through the town and much more.

Many pieces of Deadwood’s history are on display to carry on the stories of the past. But not every piece. One aspect of Deadwood, historians say, has been swept under a rug.

“It had a 104 year history here in Deadwood,” said Carolyn Weber, executive director of Deadwood History Inc.

From 1876 to 1980, brothels and prostitution in Deadwood carried on. It’s an aspect of Deadwood’s history that Weber describes as underrepresented and often times, misrepresented. Then, the idea was born to form the Deadwood Brothel Museum.

“It could be an uncomfortable subject to talk about and instead of just sweeping it under the run, we thought let’s put it out there because it was so important to our community here,” said Weber.

Right off of Main Street, the museum will sit in one of the four last operating brothels in Deadwood.

The niche industry is nearly as old as gold mining in the northern Black Hills. Following the miners were the “madams and prostitutes, some of their own volition and some, not so much,” said Weber.

Into the mid-20th century, the economic impact was felt, both by local businesses and even local charities.

“The women who worked here were very generous to the community, they donated like nobody’s business,” said Weber. It’s just another piece of history that’s gone under the radar.

“It’s important for people to get the full story of Deadwood’s history,” said Weber. “That’s what we try to do with all the museums.”

Re-modeling is set to be underway this winter with a projected opening by next summer.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News